Saint Louis 74, Massachusetts 71, OT
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP)—Tommie Liddell scored 24 points, Ian Vouyoukas tallied 21 and Saint Louis may have ended Massachusetts’ dreams of an NCAA tournament bid with a 74-71 overtime victory in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament on Thursday night.
The second-seeded Minutemen (23-8) needed to make a statement in the tournament to impress the NCAA selection committee, and losing their first game to the seventh-seeded Billikens (20-12) wasn’t the way to do it.
Saint Louis, which overcame an eight-point halftime deficit, scored the first seven points in overtime and then hung on to win.
A 3-pointer by James Life with 32.5 seconds to play got Massachusetts to within 73-71, and the Minutemen got the ball back with 18.1 seconds to back on a backcourt violation.
Chris Lowe attempted to make a move at the top of the key with about 10 seconds to play, but Liddell dived to steal the ball and was fouled.
Liddell made the first of two free throws, but he missed the second, giving Massachusetts one last chance.
Gary Forbes, who led the Minutemen with 13 points, rushed the ball upcourt and launched a 3-pointer from the left wing but it bounced off the front of the rim.
Saint Louis will now play George Washington—which beat St. Joseph’s 58-48 Thursday night—in the second semifinal at Boardwalk Hall on Friday night. Top-seeded Xavier will play fourth-seeded Rhode Island in the opener.
Kevin Lisch added 11 points and Bryce Husak tied his career high with 10 points for the Billikens.
Life added 12 points and Lowe had 11 points for Massachusetts. Conference player of the year Stephane Lasme added eight points and 13 rebounds.
Rashaun Freeman, a first-team all conference pick for the Minutemen the past three years, fouled out with 6:29 to play with six points and two rebounds. He averaged 15.5 points and 8.5 rebounds this year.
Saint Louis had a chance to win the game in regulation after Massachusetts turned the ball over on a shot clock violation. Lisch hustled the ball upcourt but his shot at the buzzer bounced off the front of the rim.
Liddell hit two free throws to start the overtime, Lisch made a jumper and a free throw and Vouyoukas scored from the baseline for a 72-65 lead with 1:22 left in the extra session.
Forbes got Massachusetts going with a 3-pointer, but the Minutemen came up short.